The employment of the artillery fire in future combats





The first attempt to draw general conclusions from the experiences gained by the field artillery during the Balkan war was the Допълнителна инструкция за употреблението на артилерийския огън въ бъдещите боя (Additional instructions for the employment of the artillery fire in future combats), published in June 1913, during the Interallied War. Among the various instructions concerning the conduct of fire in combat, this brief rapport brought out the importance of reducing the waste of ammunition, a sign that the existing reserves were regarded as inadequate. In fact during the war against Turkey the Bulgarian artillery fired often without taking care of the great amount of projectiles used.


Artillery should be placed in covered positions, close to the crests and should entrench and shelter with thick earthworks. On the crest itself the battery should construct trenches, well linked each other, in order to open fire from prearranged emplacements. In every sector of the front a battery or a section should be placed in advanced trenches, ready to open fire at any time to the enemy.

Artillery should not engage immediately battle with the enemy artillery: before the senior artillery commander should observe carefully the enemy fire and assign the emplacements for his batteries. Afterwards the most exposed and dangerous enemy batteries should be shelled with an unexpected, concentrated and short-term storm of fire, carried out by 2 or 3 batteries provided mainly with high explosive shells. Shrapnel fire should be employed only against infantry, while high explosive shells should be used more widely, even against animate targets. Previous instructions regarded shrapnel as the main projectile of the field artillery, but the war experience had shown that shielded batteries could be neutralized more easily with high explosive shells.

Dummy batteries, armed with faked guns and provided with flames should be employed on a larger scale. To deceive the enemy about the direction and the distance of the batteries, some guns should be detached to open fire first from dummy positions. Therefore every battery should prearrange some positions that should be changed by night to mislead the enemy.


Economizing ammunition was regarded as basic : waste of ammunition was regarded as a criminal. The heads of infantry and artillery should evaluate carefully the situation and assign a mission to the artillery only when it was strictly necessary. Artillery should not shot back when the enemy fire was ineffective, nor fire at the enemy infantry, when it was more than 1500-2000 m far from our infantry, at little units or at retiring lines. A lot of projectiles should not be spent against not firing targets. The greatest fire power should be developed only against the infantry who was getting ready to attack or was so close that menaced to occupy our positions.

To increase the exactness and the speed of the fire, and to reduce the expenditure of the ammunition, the data for adjusting should be prepared accurately, utilizing the rangefinder and the map, and arranging preliminarily correct data up to definite points of the battlefield. To make easier the direction of the fire especially in mountain areas the artillery should widely employ lateral observatories.

During the combat the senior heads of the artillery should leave the headquarters and go to the batteries in order to direct personally the fire, the reconnaissance of the enemy, the supply and a wise expenditure of the ammunition. They should be connected by telephone with the commander of the regiment in hierarchical order.